Hacker puppets answer your questions about the net

Gus writes, "Two of us who help produce the Hackers On Planet Earth conference and the Off The Hook radio show are starting a new season of The Media Show, our media/digital literacy show; we'd love to invite Boing Boing readers to participate in the crowdfunding and questions for our next season."

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Kickstarted rescue for the marionettes of Ralph Kipniss

Jason sez, "Ralph Kipniss is a master puppeteer who has fallen on hard times. In 2005, he lost both his life partner (after a grave illness) and his puppet theater (in an accidental fire). In the years since, Kipniss has had to move out of Chicago, but hundreds of his specially-created marionettes are still in storage in his old apartment building. Local filmmakers Joseph R. Lewis and Lew Ojeda are running a Kickstarter campaign to help reunite Kipniss with his puppets and hopefully help him get back into performing regularly."

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Adafruit debuts "Circuit Playground" -- a kids' puppet show about electronics

I've written before about Adafruit's "Circuit Playground," a kids' puppet show about electronics (with accompanying coloring book and plushies!). The first episode, "A is for Ampere," just went live and it's a smashing history and explanation of the ampere and the electron.

Circuit Playground “A is for Ampere” – Episode 1

Kickstarting a Victorian ghost movie starring puppets, with in-camera effects

Special effects artist Kevin McTurk has a fully subscribed kickstarter for The Mill at Calder's End, a Victorian ghost movie starring 30" puppets guided by pairs or trios of puppeteers all in black. The effects will be done in-camera,

The Mill at Calder's End is a gothic ghost story in the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft that will be told with 30 inch tall bunraku puppets and old fashioned in-camera special effects. Featuring the voices of Jason Flemyng (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, X-Men: First Class) and horror legend Barbara Steele (Black Sunday, The Pit and the Pendulum) , this film celebrates two of my great loves: the art of puppetry and gothic horror.

From my experience working as a special effects artist in Hollywood for over twenty years and now collaborating with some of the most talented creature effects artists, concept artists, and puppeteers in the industry, The Mill at Calder's End will be unlike any puppet film you have ever seen before.

The Mill at Calder's End is a passion project that is heavily influenced by the classic Hammer horror films of the 1960s and the films of Mario Bava (most notably, his gothic masterpiece Black Sunday). I have also always had a great love of puppetry and traditional in-camera special effects. The work of Jim Henson (The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and his Storyteller television series) is a great inspiration to me and I am hoping to bring his sense of wonderment and artistry to The Mill at Calder's End.

The Mill at Calder's End - A Ghost Story Puppet Film by Kevin McTurk — Kickstarter (Thanks, Kevin!)

Neil Patrick Harris "dreams in puppets" in a new web series on the Nerdist Channel!

(Video link) The Nerdist Channel on YouTube has something new and wonderful for you to watch: The first episode of "Neil's Puppet Dreams," starring puppet-dreamer Neil Patrick Harris! And when I say "first," I mean "first in a series," so there will be more! It premiered today, and Nerdist had a little sit-down with their newest star, who might want to look into Unisom if these are the kinds of dreams he's going to have every week. (via Nerdist)

Kiki and Bubu: neo-Marxist sock puppets join dating service, get friended by China, get taken down from YouTube

Johannes sez,

Unbelievable, but Kiki and Bubu are back! When we created the first couple of episodes for Boing Boing TV in 2008, who would have thought that the two wooly Neo-Marxist fellows would still be around in 2012? Well, they are! Here is their newest and most epic (50 minutes!) puppet extravaganza!

Story? Our favorite sock puppets Kiki and Bubu have some feelings, so they sign up for an online dating site. When the People of China want to become their friend, they are excited. However, sending the People of China a video of themselves proves to be difficult: Their content gets flagged as inappropriate and taken down from YouTube. On the long quest for knowledge which follows, Kiki and Bubu learn all about Internet censorship. And love.

monochrom: Kiki and Bubu's "RATED R US" (Thanks, Johannes!)

Million Puppet March to support public broadcasting in America

The Million Puppet March (formerly Million Muppet March, renamed because PBS can't afford to be perceived as political) is on for today in DC.

Everyone's meeting at at Lincoln Park (East of the Capitol building), and the march begins as I publish this blog post, at 11am ET.

At 1pm, a rally at the Capitol Reflecting Pool, which goes through 230pm.

I hope to be there! There's a live webcast.

Jill Buzby contributed the photo below to the Million Puppet March Facebook page. "My middle child holding my childhood Grover and Kermit dolls," she explains. "They're nearly 40 years old!"


Einstein with puppet-Einstein


If you think Einstein-with-his-tongue-out is the last word in whimsical physicist photography, have a look at this 1931 shot of the Mighty Hip Einie with an Einstein marionette.

Here's the runner up: Einstein in fuzzy slippers.


Update: Dan Bessie writes, "As it happens, I own the original negative (and photo) of Einstein with the marionette, created by my uncle Harry Burnett. And contrary to comments you've received, the puppet is neither Mark Twain, nor was it Photoshopped."

Attributed to Harry Burnett while Yale Puppeteers were working in their theater, Teatro Torito, on Olvera Street in Los Angeles, California, circa 1931. The photo was taken by Harry Burnett at Cal Tech in Pasadena where Albert Einstein was teaching. Einstein saw the puppet perform at the Teato Torito and was quite amused. He reached into his jacket’s breast pocket, pulled out a letter and crumpled it up. Speaking in German, he said, “The puppet wasn’t fat enough!” He laughed and stuffed the crumpled letter up under the smock to give the puppet a fatter belly. This is a wonderful photograph that Harry treasured. Harry Burnett also kept the letter in a frame and loved to retell the story and at the end give his pixish laugh.

Einstein with Einstein Puppet

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Jim Henson short explains "Data Communications" for Bell execs, 1963

Joly sez, "Jim Henson made this film in 1963 for The Bell System. Specifically, it was made for an elite seminar given for business owners, on the then-brand-new topic — Data Communications. The seminar itself involved a lot of films and multimedia presentations, and took place in Chicago. A lengthy description of the planning of the Bell Data Communications Seminar — sans a mention of the Henson involvement — is on the blog of Inpro co-founder Jack Byrne. It later was renamed the Bell Business Communications Seminar. The organizers of the seminar, Inpro, actually set the tone for the film in a three-page memo from one of Inpro's principals, Ted Mills to Henson. Mills outlined the nascent, but growing relationship between man and machine: a relationship not without tension and resentment: "He [the robot] is sure that All Men Basically Want to Play Golf, and not run businesses — if he can do it better." (Mills also later designed the ride for the Bell System at the 1964 World's Fair.) Henson's execution is not only true to Mills' vision, but he also puts his own unique, irreverent spin on the material. The robot narrator used in this film had previously starred in a skit for a food fair in Germany (video is silent), in 1961. It also may be the same robot that appeared on the Mike Douglas Show in 1966. Henson created a different — but similar — robot for the SKF Industries pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair. This film was found in the AT&T Archives. Thanks go to Karen Falk of the Henson Archives for providing help and supporting documentation to prove that it was, indeed, a Henson production.." (Thanks, Joly!)

Puppets re-enact no-cameras-allowed corruption trial on the nightly news

Channel 19 in Akron, Ohio was disappointed that it wouldn't be allowed to take cameras into the corruption trial of Jimmy Dimora, a former county commissioner. But when life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla: they bring the courtroom proceeding to their viewers' TV sets by re-enacting them with puppets. As Lowering the Bar notes, "I think that all court proceedings should be reported in this way, but would settle for either puppet coverage of arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court or a full reenactment of the Rod Blagojevich trial."

News Team Not Allowed to Film in Courtroom; Turns to Puppetry Instead

Beautiful short film about decomposition of a whale carcass

When an animal as big as a whale dies, its body becomes a whole new ecosystem. One whale carcass can support other forms of life for 50-to-75 years—basically as long as the whale itself lived.

This gorgeous video (I am not kidding. You will not need a unicorn chaser.) illustrates how that cycle works, using paper cutouts and simple puppetry. It's mesmerizing and enlightening.

The video was made for a Radiolab episode about whale falls, and was put together by Sharon Shattuck and Flora Lichtman. Amazing work!

Video Link

Thanks to Ferris Jabr